Sergei Fedorov was aging. His point totals were plummeting, his value decreasing, and it was beginning to look like his playing days were over. At 39 years old, nobody would blame Fedorov for hanging up the skates and retiring. He is a living legend, one of hockey's paragons who has been idolized for years, but in Columbus Fedorov just wasn't the player he used to be.
The Fedorov situation is slightly similar to the current Alex Kovalev hoopla. Kovalev, one of the league's premier Russian forwards, is slumping, badly. He's been asked to sit out, and Montreal GM Bob Gainey seems to think that the Canadiens can win without his services.
At 35, Kovalev still has a few years left in his playing career, but if the past 48 hours are any indication, they may not be in Montreal. Kovalev is a UFA this summer, and if the Canadiens truly feel they are better off without him, then it's likely that come March 4 he'll be gone.
Despite Fedorov's dip in production, he was able to bring veteran leadership to the Capitals when he joined them in March 2008. His impact was best seen on fellow Russian Alex Semin, who seemingly overnight transformed into a mature player. Fedorov has spent much of the 2008-09 season injured, but he has 20 points in 30 games, which isn't so bad considering his injury woes. He's also been the cornerstone of the emerging "F-Street" line.
Kovalev is definitely another "role model" player who, like Fedorov, the younger players might learn about postseason play from. Alex Kovalev is an expert on the subject of postseason play. He has 112 games of playoff experience, accumulating 95 points and has his name on the Stanley Cup. Last season with the Canadiens, he had 11 points in 12 playoff games.
Fedorov won't be around forever, he may not even be around next year. Perhaps the Capitals should line up Kovalev to take his place in the event of retirement over the summer or after next season.
With Russian talent in the pipeline such as Viktor Dovgan, Simeon Varlamov and a wealth of young players who looked up to Kovalev when he was their age, it never hurts to have veteran leadership to guide them.
So, the question is should the Capitals consider trading for Kovalev for a deep Cup run now and what would you be willing to sacrifice?